Book Review, coaching

40 Years with a Whistle by Dan John

40 Years with a Whistle: Life Lessons from the Field of Play

By Dan John


In the world of strength and conditioning experts, Dan John stands out as one who knows what he is talking about.

The summer between high school and college, John went from a lean 162 to a lean 202 through weight training. His brother, after not seeing him for a few weeks, said, “Holy shit” when he walked in one morning.

In the decades since then, Mr. John has continued to train, not only himself, but countless others. He’s coached as long as this reviewer has been alive, and at a high level. And he continues to compete in weight lifting, throwing, highland games, and anything else that strikes his fancy. To say he “competes” is only part of the story. He continues to win and set records at an age when most men do little more than watch their grand kids play soccer.

Mr. John, though, is no meat head. He has several master’s degrees. He’s taught economics and theology. He thinks like a philosopher, and he’s a great communicator. Whether in training or teaching, he has that rare ability to simplify. He can cut through the clutter and get to the main thing without getting distracted by the new or the shiny.

“Lift weights to get stronger. Fast to lose body fat. Stretch to get flexible. Read a lot to be well read. Obvious. I wish I could sell it to you.”

Any time I read anything Mr. John wrote, I feel like I’ve become a bit better. He’s the man every man wants as a mentor.

Reading this book was no exception. I enjoyed reading John’s insights gained from competition, coaching, and teaching. If you are interested in football or strength sports as a competitor, coach, or parent, you’ll enjoy and benefit from this book.

40 Years with a Whistle is not a how to book, though. If you are looking for training routines, you won’t find them here. Instead, John discusses principles and insights. If you want him to tell you exactly what to do, Mass Made Simple or a similar book will be a better choice. His programs are so good, he guarantees them to work:

“If you fail on my Mass Made Simple program—you eat all of that food and you do all of those squats—and you don’t put on any body mass, you can come punch me if you’d like.”

But the sets and reps and peanut butter sandwiches aren’t what make the programs work. The principles behind these programs make them work, and those are what you’ll find in 40 Years with a Whistle.

And by the way, I don’t recommend punching Dan John.

About Nowhere Tribune

A husband and daddy, striving to love his neighbors and be kind to his pets. I love good food, good beer, and a few good friends. My other interests are hiking, taking walks, lifting weights, reading books by manly authors like Hemingway and Twain, and splitting fire wood with my bare hands.


10 thoughts on “40 Years with a Whistle by Dan John

  1. I’m going to have to avoid reading this book. Otherwise I’ll run out of excuses for being a pencil-necked geek.

    Posted by Tippy Gnu | April 16, 2019, 10:03 pm
  2. I would not recommend punching him either. I would definitely second the book recommendation though.

    Posted by Erin Haske | April 17, 2019, 3:06 am
  3. I recommend you walk up to Dan John and ask him why he has two first names.
    Then run…

    Posted by rivergirl1211 | April 17, 2019, 6:26 am
  4. Great review…the comments made me laugh a lot.

    Posted by Daniel John | April 28, 2019, 2:32 pm

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